As part of the Parkview Healing Arts program, mindfulness artists coach patients on meditation and other such strategies for coping with stress and anxiety as they relate to their condition and circumstances. This wonderful program is made possible by donations to The Parkview Foundation. We invited mindfulness artist Steve Vachon to share his personal testimonial on mindfulness and his unique approach to greeting each day. He also offers suggestions for enhancing the way you begin and end your own daily routine, and strategies for cultivating self-awareness and openness.
“Today I awaken with a feeling that there is something new waiting to dawn - a sliver of light on the horizon. I do not yet know what it is, but the day feels pregnant with possibility. I also feel questions in that moment. I feel the stresses that push and prod my mind and urge me to get on quickly with my day.
So I pause before the day takes hold and I open my heart and mind. This day will be a lesser version of yesterday if my mind is full of already formed patterns of perceiving the world ‘as it is’. I need to take the time to make some space. So, I let the questions come. What is my vision for this day? How does this fit with my vision for my life? What obstacles am I encountering? In what ways do I feel powerless? In what ways do I feel powerful?
Slowly but surely, I am realizing that each day contains a treasure, but to receive this treasure, we have to let go of some aspect of yesterday’s version of ourselves, yesterday’s clutter. I have learned that if I take some time to awaken to all parts of my being, I will awaken part of myself that has the power to gift this day in a way that is distinctively different and fresh.
Within each of us are unique seeds of potential that are waiting for the right season of time to be planted, watered and warmed by our attentiveness. We then find ourselves bringing forth our own distinctive fruit, that authentic way of being our self that nourishes our relationships with our beloveds and the world around us. Living consciously and mindfully is the way we intentionally plant those seeds.
To me, mindfulness feels essential to life, like the breath, and water, and food, and love. It is first a way of being in a state of observation of our self. And it is the way I take time to consider choices that optimize my emotional experience of the present. It is the way I gain insight about the ways I have created my experiences, to choose my intentions, and to give my attention to those intentions. It is my breath of receiving new life and of letting go. It is the path of my own intentional evolution and the path of harmonious restoration of my whole self.”
Steve’s advice for a great morning and peaceful evening.
The first 10-20 minutes of your day:
- Listen to the first thought or feeling that comes.
- Ask yourself: "Does the thought or feeling bring stress or does it inspire me with positive energy?"
- If stress, mindfully acknowledge whatever brings stress and breathe slowly, deeply.
- Listen more fully for an impulse or idea that brings positive energy and hope.
- Become curious about how this impulse or idea may contribute to this day, while transforming the stress.
- Continue to breathe slowly while mindfully seeking wisdom.
- Embrace what feels simultaneously most wise and most inspiring.
Just before bed:
- Choose a relaxed posture and begin breathing slowly.
- Acknowledge any stressful memories or attachments to what happened in the day and any concerns about tomorrow.
- Affirm what you are grateful for from the day.
- Listen for the loving, non-shaming voice within or memory of a loving relationship to affirm your value.
- Ask for any wisdom that can decrease the feeling of stress about what occurred, and how you may discover empowerment to address a similar stress in the future.
- Seed this wisdom into your future by envisioning yourself consciously enacting that wisdom in future situation.
- Trust that you have cared for yourself and release into sleep.